Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sharknado 2: The Second One - Shark Happens Alright...

Last year, the SyFy (pronounced “Sci-fi”) network introduced the world to Sharknado, a movie from The Asylum that first became a cult hit and then a viral one, to the point where some theaters once had a midnight matinee screening (the time of night most known for showcasing cult films) and it received an official Blu-ray release in the UK. The memetic status of this movie was enough that Syfy not only signed on to have a sequel created, they held a contest on Twitter to determine its name. The winning name belongs to the subject of this review: Sharknado 2: The Second One. While I didn’t watch this one when it first aired, I did manage to see it recently via DVR (and just in time for Shark Week too). Since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that The Second One may be even more beautifully bad than the original.

After an unspecified amount of time since the original movie, Fin Shepard (get it?!) (Ian Ziering) and his ex-wife, April Wexler (Tara Reid), are on a flight to New York City to promote April’s new book, How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters. During the flight, Fin begins to see a shark in the dark clouds outside his window, but is told to calm down lest he scare all of the passengers aboard (incidentally, this scene feels like it was ripped straight out of The Twilight Zone, though with a shark instead of a gremlin). Fin, however, turns out to be right as a number of sharks fly around the plane and end up blowing up the engine before tearing the aircraft apart, killing several passengers and both of the pilots. April tries to fight back by firing a gun at one of the incoming sharks, but she is unable to prevent it from taking both her hand and the gun into its mouth; April feels that this is because the shark knew her somehow (this is never mentioned again). Despite having no formal flight training, Fin goes up to the cockpit and manages to perform a safe emergency landing onto the runway below. Once he exits the plane, he tries to warn New York, New York about a horrible truth: a Sharknado is coming, bigger than the one in Los Angeles, and it’s going to rip the city apart; unfortunately, no one, not even his family, believes him.

Much like the first installment, The Second One has a very poor narrative. All of the characters continue to make poor choices, such as insisting to stay outside in the middle of a Sharknado or not considering that Fin, who should damn well know what he’s talking about (having already survived a Sharknado and all), might be on to something at the suggestion of one striking New York City. Not only that, there are plot threads that are introduced only to go absolutely nowhere, one of these being introduced when Brian (Judah Friedlander) runs into Harland “The Blaster” McGuinness (Richard Kind), a former baseball player, at a Mets game. Harland wants to be able to make up for his failure in a game, or something like that, and is able to bat a shark away for a home run; neither this character nor plot thread is heard from again. I could go on, but then I’d be spoiling what goes on. However, I will say that Skye (Vivica A. Fox) is the only actual character in the whole movie, since she has a genuine personality and is capable of fighting the sharks like Fin. Even then though, I’m genuinely amazed that all of the actors, including Fox, were able to say so many dumb lines in sequence with such a straight face on film.

Pictured: Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering; left) and Skye (Vivica A. Fox; right).

Also like the first time around, the editing is horrible and reality is non-existent. With editing as shoddy as this, the film is very inconsistent in what the environment looks like between cuts, such as when Fin goes to the cockpit to fly the plane. In previous shots, we see that the sharks have ripped it open to eat the pilots, but when Fin gets there, the area is perfectly fine save for blood and guts left behind by the first shark to run into it. There is also a scene where the streets literally (in the literal sense) can’t decide if they are flooded or dry or if the sky is raining or not. Naturally, physics is also thrown out the window, since sharks can still be taken out of the sky and have all momentum be destroyed, plus Fin still believes that a single bomb can take out an entire tornado (if weather worked that way in real life, then we’d be doing this all the time). To make matters worse, time doesn’t seem to be a factor in anything either. Whenever something urgent comes up, characters are more willing to waste time instead of getting down to the important task at hand. In other words, this movie seems to take an artistic license with everything it possibly can. As for the effects, they are a little better this time around, but better still doesn’t mean good.

The effects are so cheap that they even recycled the
Sharknado from the poster for the first movie.

Unlike the first movie though, we have the added bonus of celebrity cameos, and a good number of them to boot. We get to see the likes of Wil Wheaton, Andy Dick, Kurt Angle, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jared Fogle and many, many more. Some of these celebrities are also in roles reflective of earlier works they’ve been in, such as casting Judd Hirsch as a taxi driver named Ben (since he played a driver named Alex Rieger on the show Taxi) or Robert Hays as the airline pilot (he is known for his role as Ted Striker in the movie Airplane!). Of all the cameos though, I found it a little baffling just how much screen time Al Roker and Matt Lauer (playing themselves, naturally) from the Today show get. Their time in the film is more than just a brief few seconds or a single line; whenever they show up, they get what feels like a good five minutes or so where they discuss the Sharknado phenomenon, complete with inexplicably appropriate graphics (though it takes longer for Matt Lauer to catch on than Al Roker). The only real reason that the Today show or The Weather Channel are prominently featured is because they, like Syfy, are owned by NBC Universal, but even then it's a little crazy just how much screen time they get. In any case, most of the cameos are merely background appearances or for characters who have otherwise no bearing on the plot. I’m just amazed at all that so many people even agreed to show up in a low budget shark movie.

The Sharknado seems to have been strong enough to rip away
Al Roker and Matt Lauer's collective dignity.

Sharknado 2: The Second One is an incredibly bad movie, but also one that clearly knows this fact and runs with it as far as it possibly can. The script is outrageous, its twists are even more ridiculous, the editing is horrible and some of the cameos are downright baffling. In the end, the sequel proves to not be even worse than the first one, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to watch. I can almost guarantee that you’ll find yourself laughing at this mess of a movie throughout, or at least find something to enjoy within the madness that is a swirling vortex of doom filled with sharks. This appears to be all they needed though, since Syfy has recently announced a third installment due for 2015, although the subtitle, if there is one, has yet to be determined (I just hope they don’t go with “The Third One”).

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